March 16 was not the best of days for Sotheby's, the venerable New York auction house. Albert Einstein failed to sell, and Ross Perot failed to buy.

HIGH-FLYING FIDO: This 1959 prototype canine high-altitude, partial-pressure suit for use in Soviet suborbital biological research flights sold for $25,300.
A 72-page Einstein manuscript on special relativity, which first sold for $1.2 million in 1987, did not attract any bidders above the confidential minimum price. Earlier the same day, Sotheby's held its second auction of Russian space artifacts. The first, in December 1993, had been wildly successful, with bidders buying 95 percent of all lots offered, often at prices well over pre-sale estimates.

The big buyer at the 1993 auction-not widely known-was Ross Perot, Texas billionaire and 1992 presidential candidate. He bought eight of the 10 highest-priced lots, including a Soyuz space capsule for $1,652,500; three space suits for a total of $600,000;...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!
Already a member?